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Swimming is great exercise at any time. It's a vigorous aerobic activity that burns an average of between 350 & 660 calories in an hour.
Swimming uses more muscle groups than almost any other exercise. A major benefit is that swimming is relaxing. It's a great way to help reduce stress.

slowly absorb the information....

the workout
There are 4 basic strokes:

  • butterfly
  • backstroke
  • breaststroke
  • freestyle

Most recreational swimmers stick w/ freestyle also known as the crawl. You can either swim laps in the pool or head for an ocean, lake, or any other body of water that's large enough & deep enough to submerge your body.

Water's natural buoyancy. It supports about 90% of your body weight, so there's no painful jarring of your joints. Not only does this prevent injury, it helps prevent post-workout soreness.

Water is also 14 times thicker than air so it offers plenty of muscle toning resistance in any direction you move.

You need a certain amount of skill so you don't, well, flop around like a fish out of water. Scientists speculate that you burn less fat & more glucose & that water keeps your body temperature & heart rate somewhat lower than do land-based workouts.

For this reason, swimming is not the best choice for weight loss.

Gear: A swimsuit & goggles. For skill drills you may want to have a kick board, swim fins & hand paddles on hand.

Instruction/Facilities: A pool or some other body of water.

Time: 20-60 minutes, 3-5 days a week.

  • Supplement your swim program w/2-3 weekly weight training sessions to ensure that you stimulate bone growth.
  • If you haven't dipped a toe into a pool since summer camp, take a lesson or two. Breathing rhythm & technique are the key to flying through the water like a dolphin.

iVillagers say
"I am a lifeguard & I swim 2 hours a day, 6 days a week. My arms & legs look really good, but my stomach still looks flabby. I wouldn't recommend swimming to lose weight unless you are doing another exercise w/it." An iVillager

"When I started swimming, I was very unfit & overweight. 5 months later I have lost weight & swim on 2 to 3 kilometers per day!" An iVillager

Since chlorine is very drying to the skin, take a shower following your swim.

Water Workouts

If you're tired of running or pumping up seemingly endless hills on a bike, it's a good time to give swimming or water aerobics a try. You can get a good workout, bask in the sun and be refreshed all at the same time.

And if you get hooked on swimming laps or water aerobics or "aquasize" classes, there are always indoor pools when summer's over.

Easy on the Body

The key benefit of water workouts is that unlike other conditioning programs, participants rarely suffer from injuries.

"About the only injury you'll see with swimming is shoulder tendinitis," says Anthony Boettcher, a swimming instructor. "Swimming is something that you can do throughout your life. I teach a master's class where some of the participants are 70 years and up in age. It's probably the best workout available for someone that age and they're in really good shape," he added.

Boettcher also suggested interval programs that will vary a swimmer's heart rate during a workout.

Freestyle, Butterfly, Breast Stroke

Like any workout program, the harder you work the more you'll get out of it, but an hour of swimming is roughly equivalent to an hour of riding a bicycle, as far as burning calories.

The front crawl, or freestyle, stroke—where your head is down in the water—is the primary stroke for lap swimmers. The butterfly, back and breast strokes add variety while utilizing different muscle groups.

Unless you're training for a triathlon or swam for your high school team, it might be wise to take a few lessons in order to maximize your time in the pool. Go ahead and buy some goggles before you take that first lap, you'll be glad that you did.

Aquasize It

Water aerobics is perfect for anyone who is having problems with sore knees or ankles. Kerri Polifka, a fitness program coordinator for a park and recreation district in Denver, said her classes range from startup classes for those new to working out to, deep-water classes for those who are already in good shape.

Polifka said a typical workout in her class starts with warm up and toning exercises, then a cardiovascular segment that is more intense and finally toning using water dumbbells or Styrofoam noodles. The obvious benefit in water aerobics is the resistance from the water and how hard you work against it.

Choose a Pool

When you decide to hit the water, look for pools that offer a lot of open pool time for lap swimming and/or plenty of lap lanes and also those that have a variety of water aerobics classes. Check to see if the instructors are certified and find out how long they've been teaching their specialty.

Local colleges and universities usually offer classes and open pool times, as do park and recreation districts and YMCAs.

— Mike Robuck

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